The interleukins of fish

Chris J Secombes, Tiehui Wang, Steven Bird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukins are a subgroup of cytokines, molecules involved in the intercellular regulation of the immune system. The term interleukin was first coined in 1979 to refer to molecules that signal between different leucocyte types, although not exclusively restricted to leucocyte communication. Whilst it is now known that interleukins are produced by a wide variety of cell types, nevertheless many are synthesised by CD4(+) T helper cells, macrophages/monocytes and endothelial cells. The nomenclature is relatively straightforward, with interleukin 1 the first discovered and interleukin 2 the second, etc. However, whilst 35 interleukins are currently described in mammals, several are in fact terms referring to subfamilies of more molecules, as with the IL-1 family where 11 members (IL-1F1-IL-1F11) are present, and the IL-17 family where 6 members (IL-17A-IL-17F) are present. So the total is much higher and splice variants and allelic variation increase this diversity further. This review will focus on what is known about interleukins in fish, and will refer to the major subfamilies rather than try to work through 35 descriptions in a row. It is clear that many direct homologues of molecules known in mammals are present in fish, but that not all are present and some novel interleukins exist that may have arisen from fish specific gene duplication events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1345
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental and Comparative Immunology
Issue number12
Early online date13 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • amino acid sequence
  • animals
  • cell communication
  • fishes
  • gene duplication
  • gene expression regulation
  • genetic loci
  • humans
  • interleukins
  • mammals
  • molecular sequence data
  • sequence alignment
  • sequence homology, amino acid
  • signal transduction
  • synteny
  • t-lymphocytes, helper-inducer


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